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It was John Wedge, Batman's private surveyor, who named the Yarra Yarra. In September 1835 he was at the Turning Basin with some Kulin and heard them identify the river as it came over the Falls as, he wrote, 'Yarrow Yarrow'. It was only some months later that Wedge discovered they had been referring to the pattern and movement of water over the Falls, not the river itself.

And ever since, it has been the Yarra's fate to be misunderstood: maligned for its muddiness, ill-used as sewer and tip; scooped, sculpted, straightened and stressed, 'cleaned up' to the detriment of its natural inhabitants; built-over, under and beside; worked mercilessly and then bridged almost to maritime extinction.

In Kristin Otto's superbly entertaining new history, the whole sorry tale is laid bare. From the creation stories of Kulin owners and geologist blow-ins (and Robert Hoddle's bad-tempered expedition to the headwaters) to the twenty-first-century waterside building boom, Otto traces the course of Melbourne's murky river.

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 5, 2009

    Text (Adult)

    288 pages

    RRP $24.95

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Kristin Otto

Capital: Melbourne When It Was the Capital City of Australia 1901-27


Life on Air
The Fatal Shore
The Reef: A Passionate History
The Secret Life of the Owl
The Unexpected Truth About Animals
DK Find Out!: Earth
Client Earth
Selected Writings
The Torrent: A True Story of Heroism and Survival (2nd Edition)
The January Man
The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady Colouring Book
Merino Country
Planet Earth II
A Farewell To Ice
Convict Tattoos
Animal Babies
Position Doubtful: Mapping landscapes and memories